We drove to Calgary today to participate in a drafting/carting clinic put on by the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of Canada and the Newfoundland Dog Fanciers of Alberta. We were joined by Coreen & Steve Johnson of Tailspin Bernese (Spirit’s breeders) with their Newfie Ryder and two other Tailspin Berners, brother and sister Gunnar and Felice.
Felice, Gunnar, Ryder and Spirit (L-R)
We started out a little rocky. Spirit has been kicksledding for the last two months so she thought that she was supposed to take off like a rocket and pull the cart. It had to stand in front of her to stop her from racing off (and I have the bruises to prove it). Eventually she caught on and began to walk nicely at my side and even started making some decent left and right turns. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us before we could even consider taking the draft dog test.
Next week we are going to take a carting clinic and we needed a cart for the class. We are very lucky that Spirit’s breeders Coreen and Steve Johnson from Tailspin Bernese Mountain Dogs generously offered to lend us one of theirs. We went to their acreage on Sunday to fit Spirit with her harness and cart.
Since we have been doing kick sledding I was worried that Spirit would want to take off running with the cart rather than walking in a nice heel beside me. She was a little spooked by the metal supports running along side her body but I think she did ok.
Of course it was freezing cold and windy for us two legged folks but the dogs didn’t mind. Here is a quick video of her first reaction to being attached to the cart and then her first experience pulling.
Today Spirit and I attended a pulling seminar. Berners were bred to pull milk carts so I thought it would be fun to try doing something that she would enjoy. It proved to be a bit of a challenge to start with. Spirit has been trained to walk beside me on a loose leash so I had a hard time getting her to go out in front of me and put some tension on the leash. The teacher said that dogs with good obedience always have more of a challenge with pulling sports. I did get her to drag a few old bike tires and at the end we did a little work with me on a scooter. If there was a dog in front of us she would pull a little. Hopefully I can get her to reliably pull in harness without losing her loose leash walk in a collar. Fingers crossed!!!!